I went to see The Fountain with high expectations after watching the trailer online months before it came out. I was not disappointed. Even if you are a bit confused by the three-dimensional plot, just about anyone could recognize the visual superiority of this movie. This is one most visually haunting and viscerally striking films I have seen in a long time. Three scenes in particular come to mind for me: One, when Hugh Jackman is floating in a bubble with a dying tree of life as he drifts in and out of smoky tendrils of an amber-colored nebula in space; Two, when Hugh crowd surfs his way through a mass of angry Mayans to climb to the top of an ancient pyramid; And three, when he approaches the Queen of Spain through a great hall lit with thousands of tiny candles hung at different heights to make a starlit backdrop for their encounter. Even a person who did not understand the movie would have to admit that it was beautiful to behold, especially since the fimmakers decided to go “old school” and decline the use of CGI enhancements.
This movie shows the duality of life and death in a new, however ancient, light. I have never seen a movie that approaches the topic of death from such a philosphical angle. I won’t attempt to give a play-by-play breakdown of my perceptions, but I will say that the film left me with the concept that love is indeed stronger than death, and that no one really knows how to deal with death because try as we might, there is no way to be sure what is on the other side of the curtain. However, the plot is designed to be more of an experience than a linear story, and those who cannot follow this type of design may be turned off.
When I looked around the theater, I saw quite a few people who made audible comments throughout the movie that made it clear to me they were simply Hugh Jackman fans who had gotten in way over their heads. They thought they were coming to see a love story with an attractive male lead, and the movie was probably shocking to them in how far off base their expectations had been. I stopped in the restroom after the show and heard a middle aged lady with a rural Missouri accent tell her friend in the adjacent stall, “Well, that was a waste a’ money!” The friend agreed saying “Yeah, an’ what I don’t get’s how ‘e got up there in that bubble thang.” This attitude was also present on several online reviews I read.
Almost every negative review I saw was basically someone saying “I hated it because I didn’t understand it.” I think some moviegoers are too stuck on the idea that there has to be some concrete “moral-of-the-story” type ending to every movie for it to make sense. I guess it just bothers me that the average person’s reaction to something they don’t understand is automatically one of dislike. You don’t have to be intelligent to grasp the idea that some things are just beyond comprehension, and that in itself makes them beautiful as far as I’m concerned.
Basically, my point is, go see this movie and make of it what you will, but be prepared to use your imagination and think a little bit. You might really enjoy it!